The arrival of summer means beaches, bug spray, bikinis, barbecue and boating for millions of Americans. But topping the list of seasonal fun for many of them? Backyard barbecues.
If you’re craving a good cookout, only one things stands in the way of you and the juicy delicious hot dogs, burgers and other favorite fresh-off-the-grill meals, we’ve rounded up 3 things to do now to get a jump start on the savory barbecue season.
1. Grill Cleaning 101
Perhaps no two words strike as much fear in the hearts of American every April, May and June than these two: “spring cleaning.”
While this dreaded task can sometimes feel like an insurmountable chore, you’ll be glad you did it when you’re cooking on a sparkling clean grill and enjoying tasty meals in your backyard sanctuary.
If you thoroughly cleaned your grill at the close of last summer, you’re ahead of the game. Cleaning may simply involve wiping it free of dust and cobwebs a well as inspecting for any signs of damage and/or wear and tear to its various parts.
If you neglected to adequately clean your grill prior to putaway last fall, you may be dealing with a messier project.
Having the right grill cleaning tools can help you make short work of an otherwise unpleasant task.
If your grill is old, broken or simply no longer up to the task, now is also the time to consider whether a new grill is in your near future. (And with Father’s Day just around the corner, shopping for the perfect gift just got a little easier.)
You’ll hardly be alone in upgrading. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, as many as 14 million new grills are shipped every year.
2. Menu Planning
While you don’t have to know exactly what you’ll serve at every barbecue bash between now and when the weather turns cool again, taking the time now to consider the foods you’ll be serving can help save both time and money — particularly for savvy shoppers who stock up on deals and discounted ingredients.
In addition to planning ahead for major grilling events like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, prepping for simpler occasions can also save time, money and stress.
So what barbecued meals are most likely to please your guests? Good, old-fashioned hamburgers top the list with 56 percent of Americans preferring them over alternatives like steak and chicken, according to statistics from The Beef Board. Other popular proteins? Hot dogs, brats and ribs.
But there are also plenty of opportunities for people craving less carnivorous options. According to Weber, grilled seafood, fruits and vegetables, bread, and veggie burgers are also increasingly popular items for the grill.
3. Patio Prep
Everything from mildew to dirt can accumulate on your outdoor space during the off-season. One of the most effective ways to clean a deck or patio is with a pressure washer, although bristle brushes also work for smaller spaces.
This is also the time to inspect your patio furniture to make sure it’s ready for yet another summer season. Wipe down frames and scrub all cushions before laying them out in the sun to dry.
If cushions are tattered and/or worn beyond repair, they may be beyond a simple spruce up.
Many stores offer discounted sales prior to the major holidays so keep an eye out for promotions.
But creating a warm, welcoming outdoor environment involves far more than some elbow grease.
The success of outdoor gatherings relies on everything from maximizing space, flow and function to adequate lighting. Additionally, to provide warmth on chilly nights while extending your grilling season further, consider investing in a patio heater to keep things cozy.
Other factors to consider when decorating your outdoor living space include everything from a pleasing color scheme to soothing water features to an effective sound system.
Approximately 80 percent of all U.S. households own grills, and a staggering 97 percent of them have been used within the past year. If you’re gearing up for grilling season, this handy guide can help you get ahead of the game.